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ITV Racing Receives Royal Ascot Treatment with White Light

ITV_RACING_ASCOT_02Royal Ascot is often regarded as the centrepiece of the British horse-racing calendar, attracting the best racehorses in the world. It was founded by Queen Anne in 1711 and is attended each year by Elizabeth II and other members of the Royal Family.  For the first time this year, the race was broadcast by ITV Sport, who have provided coverage for the entire horse-racing season.  Following its previous work with ITV, White Light was called upon to provide the technical lighting solutions for the mobile studio set and outdoor broadcasts at Ascot.

Royal Ascot took place from 20th – 24th June at Ascot Racecourse in Berkshire. The Lighting Director for ITV was Chris Hollier.  He comments: “White Light have facilitated the lighting of ITV’s horse racing coverage week in week out since the start of the year.  The calendar is relentless; unlike any other sports season there aren’t any breaks, it just keeps rolling on, but Royal Ascot stands out due to the prestige and huge global coverage.  ITV Sport were broadcasting two shows; an hour long buildup show in the morning and then coverage of the racing all afternoon. Due to the long transmission times and multiple locations we needed to supply the presentation positions with the most reliable lighting support possible to deal with the changeable British weather ”.

Royal-AscotFor The Opening Show in the morning, WL’s role was to install the set and provide all of the studio lighting along with the lighting crew. Chris comments: “The Opening Show started at 10am. Therefore we had to arrive on site early to fire up the studio, test the equipment and make the necessary adjustments to lighting levels ready for rehearsals”. For the indoor studio WL drew on two of Dedolight’s LED fixtures, the DLED7 and DLED9, which are small, powerful, yet extremely robust lighting fixtures, often used for broadcast.  Chris adds: “The Dedo’s came in particularly useful as they offered full control of level and colour and allowed us to achieve a consistent feel no matter what the weather threw at us”. For the particularly bright broadcasts across the five days, WL supplemented its existing equipment with HMI lighting.

The afternoon broadcasts were presented from the open air presentation position in the middle of the Ascot parade ring .  WL had to install the set in the paddock area as well as provide the lighting once again. Chris states: “We faced an unique challenge in the middle of this prestigious arena.  The horses obviously move around the parade ring so there could be no mains power or cables for lighting.  We had to come up with a solution which gave us enough light output and could be run off batteries for a substantial amount of time ”.

This saw WL draw on Zylight F8-D200s which are fresnel fixtures that can be solely powered by battery. Chris states: “We sourced the Zylight’s specifically for this broadcast along with a Flim Gear 360, high output LED panel which, again, provided the lighting coverage required without the reliance on mains cables”.

The daily presence of the Queen and her guests resulted in another consideration for the production team. Chris explains: “Every day at approximately 2pm there was the Royal procession along the course with the Queen arriving into the parade ring.  This meant for the opening of the show at 1.30pm we had to relocate to another presentation position just outside the parade ring to get the best vantage point.  We would then wait until the Royal party had been escorted to the Royal box before moving back in the centre of the parade ring to our main position for the afternoon”.

ITV_RACING_ASCOT_07WL had two rigging days to prepare for the event. Chris states: “We worked all day on the Sunday and Monday to ensure everything was in place for that first broadcast on Tuesday morning when we went live at 10am.  We had a lot to get in place to cover the multiple positions and set ourselves up for the week before donning our top hat and tails for the hottest Royal Ascot in 20 years”.

Royal Ascot marks just one of the many broadcasts that WL has worked on this year. The technical solutions specialist has supported all of ITV Sport’s horse racing coverage, lighting the studios and presentation areas.

This year’s Royal Ascot attendance was one of the highest yet and  significantly increased viewing figures from last year. It was ITV Sport’s first ever broadcast of the races with  around 200 people working on the event, along with over 4 0  cameras positioned all across the entire racecourse, allowing viewers greater insight  than ever before.

Chris adds: “This was a fantastic broadcast for us all to work on; not only in terms of the prestige but the fact that we were able to deliver on-site to a very stringent schedule. It was great to be working alongside  the ITV Racing team who were pushing boundaries in the coverage of this magnificent event”.

Photos courtesy of ITV Picture Desk.